Science & Astronomy
8. November 2014

It’s not so long ago that I wrote a previous version of this post, but this time I’m determined to write regular followups like this one. Tomorrow, the first half of Expedition 41 to the International Space Station, is coming home after almost six months in space and the station’s crew will be temporarily reduced to three astronauts before the next crew is launching soon and Expedition 42 is going to start. I just like to keep an overview on the crew changes on the space station and this time it’s going to be very interesting!

Who’s leaving: Maksim Surayev, Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst are coming back on Sunday night, November 9 after a six-month stay . Hatch closing is scheduled for 22:10 CET, undocking for 01:30 CET and landing on 04:58 CET in the wee morning of Monday, making it a bit uncomfortable for us West Europeans to watch everything live as usual. This marks the end of a very exciting time in terms of social media on the ISS, since those three Astronauts were all active on Twitter (@msuraev, @astro_reid and @astro_alex) and other social networks, regularly posting images from orbit and reporting about their work on the station. Alexander Gerst has already begun to write an in-depth series of articles about the science of his mission, of which part one, two and three have already been posted.

[Update November 10: the three astronauts have landed safely early this morning! The NASA Youtube channel has the videos of the goodbye ceremonies, the departure and the landing, which was actually captured on camera this time!]

Who is staying: Aleksandr SamokutyayevYelena Serova and Barry E. Wilmore arrived on the station in late September and will be the only crew members on the station for about two weeks until Expedition 42 officially starts with the arrival of the next three astronauts. Unfortunately, there will be a sort of social media outage from the station in this time, because none of them are active on Twitter or anywhere else. But that’s going to change again when the new folks are going to arrive.

Who is launching: Anton ShkaplerovSamantha Cristoforetti and Terry W. Virts are going up on November 23, 3:59pm EDT and have been very busy in the last few months getting ready for their flight. @AstroSamantha and @AstroTerry are nevertheless busily using Twitter and Cristoforetti is also still regularly writing her detailed Logbook on Google+. She also unveiled an utterly awesome poster for their Expedition 42 recently on Google+ honouring none other than Douglas Adams. Shkaplerov, Cristoforetti and Virts will be on the station until May 2015.

Also launching will be the fifth SpaceX Dragon freighter to the ISS on December 9 in a flight which will be very crucial because of the loss of Orbital Science’s third Cygnus freighter on the Antares rocket on October 28. The ISS does not yet have supply problems and all personal baggage of the astronauts launching in November has already arrived on the station with the previous Dragon transporter, but should this launch fail completely, the situation would suddenly be very different – although I’m sure that SpaceX will not disappoint and be even more careful than they usually are.

And in the world of unmanned space exploration, something very exciting is happening soon: on Wednesday, November 12, the Rosetta Spacecraft is going to attempt setting its Philae Lander down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. More on that later, because it really warrants its own article, but here’s one quick link to Emily Lakdawalla’s article, which has basically all the details you could want!





Also December 4th, 2014 Orion’s Exploration Flight Test No. 1 from NASA’s pad 37B at Cape Canaveral FL, USA.

Thanks, Jim – I actually wasn’t thinking as far as December yet, that’s probably going to be worth yet another posting!

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